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BGT 2023, IND v AUS, 2nd Test, Day 2: After Lyon’s fifer breaks top-order, Axar’s 74 rescues India

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2: After Nathan Lyon’s fifer (5-67) breaks top-order, Axar Patel’s 74 rescues India. Axar Patel-Ravichandran Ashwin put on 114-run partnership for 8th wicket.

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2_ Axar Patel's 74 helps India finish the first innings with just 1 run deficit _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Axar Patel-Ashwin put on 114-run stand for 8th wicket (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Brief Scores: Australia 263 (Khawaja 81, Handscomb 72*, Shami 4-60) & 61-1 (Head 39*, Jadeja 1-23) lead India 262 (Axar 74, Kohli 44, Lyon 5-67) by 62 runs at Stumps on Day 2

India’s struggle against Nathan Lyon continues and without Rishabh Pant, no one in the top-order actually put the pressure back on Australia’s lead spinner which helped him come into his own. Axar Patel and Ashwin’s 114-run partnership for the eighth wicket somehow saved India from a big deficit as India were bundled out for 262 giving Australia a miniscule lead of one run.

Australia came out to bat in their second innings with pure positive intent from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne at number 3 which resonated a philosophy of not going down without a fight. Scoring at five runs per over, Australia posted 61-1 at the end of play on Day 2.

Axar Patel keeps his calm even as Lyon comes into his own

Nathan Lyon’s comeback after a poor first Test match was the highlight for Australia. For India, for the kazillionth time since 2019, the lower order bailed them out from bowing down to the opponents. Axar Patel was particularly impressive as he didn’t finch one bit when the ball was turning and Australia’s spinners were attacking from all directions. Patel even attacked Pat Cummins and negotiated debutant left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann quite well. He continued to keep his calm and built a superb 114-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Ravichandran Ashwin. They both looked determined to take India to safety.

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2_ Nathan Lyon took 5-67 against India in first innings of Delhi Test; Nathan Lyon takes 100 wickets against India _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Nathan Lyon's 5-67 restricts India for 262 in Delhi Test (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Session 1: Lyon solitary predator with 4 victims

The king of the jungle, Lion always hunts in a pack but Australia’s spin king Nathan Lyon was the solitary predator in session one of Day 2 in Delhi, where he dismantled India’s batting order with four wickets.

India began the day on an overnight score of 21-0. The first session was always going to be crucial for both the teams as this would pace the momentum for the day. The India batters initially scored freely off Kuhnemann and Cummins, being 46-0 at the end of the 17th over.

Cummins introduced veteran spinner Lyon into the attack in the 18th over and Australia’s ‘Lion’ was quick to pick a wicket on the first delivery with KL Rahul disappointing yet again with a low score of 17. India captain, Rohit Sharma who was looking positive was outdone by a peach of a delivery from Lyon, from around the wicket in between good and full length, pitched on middle and off, and straightened slightly to dislodge the batter’s off-stump. This was the seventh time that Lyon dismissed Rohit in Test matches where the latter averages an ordinary 25.7 against the former.

The man playing his 100th Test match, Cheteshwar Pujara who is also India’s only batter to have a 50+ average against spinner since 2017, survived a close shave on his second delivery but couldn’t salvage his stay further as he was dismissed for a duck by Lyon. India’s comeback man and one of India’s most confident players of spin bowling, Shreyas Iyer lasted 15 deliveries before he was dismissed and no prizes for guessing who the bowler was, the roaring ‘Lyon’. Complete dominance by the off-spinner led to the outcome that India scored just 67 runs in the first session and lost four crucial wickets on this slow and low wicket as India reached 88-4 at Lunch.

Session 2: Australia pick two big fish but India’s lower order comes to the rescue, yet again

Post lunch, India had a positive approach trying to attack on the odd deliveries with both Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli looking solid and confidently pairing with each other. With Jadeja’s instinctive approach of pad ahead of his bat, he was always going to be a candidate for a leg before dismissal when the odd ball didn’t turn; Todd Murphy was quick to pounce with an arm ball which had India’s all-rounder plumb in front. Soon after, within a span of three overs, Virat Kohli was dismissed, yet again in a controversial manner.

Abiding by the law of gifting wickets to debutants, Kohli was struck in front of the stumps, with his bat and pad being too close to each other and was given out. With lack of conclusive evidence for the TV umpire to overturn Nitin Menon’s on field decision, Kohli had to walk back. Srikar Bharat looked positive with a boundary on a reverse sweep but his positive approach brought his own undoing within the next eight deliveries after Kohli’s dismissal. With this wicket, Nathan Lyon picked up his 22nd Test match five-wicket haul and became only the third bowler behind Muttiah Muralitharan (105) and James Anderson (139) to pick 100 Test wickets against India.

India were in serious trouble, losing three quick wickets within half an hour and a big deficit of 124 runs looming over them on this low and slow wicket. A steady 40 run partnership between Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin meant India didn’t lose any further wickets in the post lunch session. India scored 91 runs in this session and lost three important wickets of Jadeja, Kohli and Bharat, but more significantly curbed the deficit to just 84 runs before the start of the third session.

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2_ Axar Patel-Ravichandran Ashwin added 114 runs for 8th wicket in Delhi Test _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Axar-Ashwin added 114 runs for 8th wicket in Delhi Test (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Session 3: Axar-Ashwin fight back to narrow down Australia’s lead

India’s spin twin - Ashwin and Axar - looked solid even in the post tea session. They took advantage of the tired legs and fingers of the Aussie spinners and scored boundaries off loose deliveries. With a perfect blend of attack and defence, the duo put on a match-saving 114 run partnership as they steered India out of danger. Axar Patel picked up his second consecutive Test fifty with a six. Soon, once the new ball was available, within four overs, Australia wrapped things up as they bowled India out for 262 runs with a lead of one run.

When Australia came into bat, they opened with Travis Head and Usman Khawaja as regular opener David Warner who had sustained an injury earlier was subbed with concussion replacement as Matt Renshaw.

After a few handsome shots off the new ball, Khawaja was dismissed attempting a paddle sweep thanks to a brilliantly anticipated catch by Shreyas Iyer at leg slip position off the bowling of Jadeja. The intent was very clear from Australians, if there is a wicket, it better be off an attempt to score runs rather than to defend. Marnus Labuschagne and Head both took the bowlers on with sweep shots, cover drives and putting pressure on the Indian camp with each additional run.

What to Expect on Day 3

At the end of day 2, the momentum is a bit in Australia’s favor especially with the kind of counter-attacking way their upper order has started in their second innings. With the pitch getting tougher to bat on, even a 200-run lead would mean a dire situation for India with Nathan Lyon, Murphy and Kuhnemann licking their lips.

Statistical Highlights from India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2

  • KL Rahul was dismissed for the fifth time against Nathan Lyon in Test cricket.

  • Nathan Lyon dismissed Rohit Sharma for the 7th time in Test cricket.

  • Nathan Lyon picked Cheteshwar Pujara for the 11th time in his international Test career.

  • Ashwin became the fifth India player to pick 700+ first class wickets and score 5000+ runs.

  • Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin’s 114-run partnership was also the third-highest eighth wicket partnership for India against Australia.

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